Early experiences and relationships are critical to brain development – they build the foundation for health, learning, and life. But too many parents face crippling hardships just when their children need them most. When children grow up in stressful environments where they are exposed to violence, neglect, or untreated mental illness, those experiences can block the normal, healthy development of their brains—harming long-term health and future outcomes.
Child First works with parents and young children together in their homes. We help parents heal from their own history of trauma, empowering parents to create a nurturing and stable home environment. We also connect families directly with the services they need —like a safe place to live, medical care or quality childcare.
Our Families' Stories
These stories depict the real life experiences encountered by families that have participated in Child First. The underlying theme for each family is the importance of intervening early to rebuild strong nurturing relationships between child and caregivers. Pseudonyms have been used to protect the anonymity of families.
Tanya was a four year little girl with long brown curls and big, sad, brown eyes. She came to the Bridgeport Hospital Pediatric Clinic for her well child visit on a cold October day with her mother, a tall stately woman wearing dark, sunglasses. In the waiting room, Mom was asked to fill out a new questionnaire. She did. It helped pass the time. Throughout the visit with the doctor, and Mom kept her glasses on and said little. Tanya was healthy. But, before leaving, a woman with a sweet smile came into the exam room to talk to her... Read More.
Jose was a bubbly three year old boy with big brown eyes and dark brown curls. He lived with his loving parents on the First floor of a small, red brick apartment building. It was 8 p.m. on a cold November night. Jose was cuddled by his mother’s side on the couch in the living room reading a book before bed. His father was watching football. Suddenly Jose’s building was surrounded by flashing lights. Huge men in strange uniforms carrying enormous guns broke down the door to the apartment, tore apart the furniture, pushed Jose’s beautiful mother to the floor, and took his beloved father away in hand-cuffs. Jose shivered in the corner, unseen. And, as the FBI departed, the life that Jose knew was over.... Read More.
We identified a family with a three year old through screening at the Pediatric Primary Care Center at Bridgeport Hospital. Mom revealed that she was severely depressed, but little more. Although Child First tried multiple times to engage her, they met with little success. It was only when she and her three children were about to be evicted because she could not pay the rent, that she called Child First and the work began. Mom told her story. She ran with her children from a severe domestic violence situation. They were living in an empty apartment – no beds, tables, or chairs – and she was working three jobs just to pay the rent. She never saw her children. Her three year old was about to be expelled from preschool for aggressive behavior. Her older children, once good students, were now failing in school. She was afraid that when she was evicted and homeless, she would lose her children. She was despondent. ... Read More.
Luis is a handsome 4 year old, with thick black hair and beautiful, expressive brown eyes, which he kept averted most of the time. His mom, Maria, was incredibly worried about him. His speech was slightly delayed, despite having received great services through Birth to 3. He experienced moments of anger and despair, where he would bang his head, hit his mom, cry inconsolably, and scream until he could scream no more. He would rarely look people in the eye, preferring to play alone. He also had severe separation anxiety, which troubled his mom, who wanted him to get a better education than she got. His time in preschool also allowed her to work an extra job to make ends meet. When she was referred to Child First, she shared that she firmly believed that his behavior was caused by the domestic violence he had seen in his home at such a young age.... Read More.